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Environmental Architecture hero

Overview

Alternative forms of co-existence

Key details

  • 180 credits
  • 1 year programme
  • Full-time study

School or Centre

Application deadline

  • Applications closed. Please check back soon.

Career opportunities

  • Environmental Architecture graduates are expected to go on to work in a range of fields, from further academic study to roles in environmentalist NGOs, urban planning agencies and design agencies including architecture, landscape architecture and environmental design.

Explore the future of landscapes, environments and ecosystems.

Applications of the 2022 intake are now closed. To register for updates on applications for a 2023 start please complete an Enquiry to Study form.

The aim of the programme is to constitute a new field of knowledge production and practice concerned with the design of alternative forms of co-dependence between life forms and earth systems. The MA Environmental Architecture is a design-led and field-focused course that emphasises a transdisciplinary approach to design research. The programme proposes an unique approach to environmental architecture education that brings together architectural and ethnographic research methods, with the use of technoscientific tools for analysing, classifying, and producing environmental data.

At the same time, students are exposed to the perspectives of those in the frontlines of environmental struggles across the world, to histories and theories of environmental change, and to the most recent advances in the related fields of environmental law and climate justice.

Catch the replays from our November 2021 online Open Day.

Gallery

Facilities

The School of Architecture is currently based at our historic Kensington site.

View all facilities

Our studios are the heart of day-to-day activity for the School. Studios are purpose-designed for inspiration and interaction between students of different design disciplines. Studio workspace is provided for each student. In addition, you have access to wood, metal, plastic and resin workshop facilities, as well as contemporary digital fabrication equipment and a suite of bookable project and making spaces.

  • Students in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Students in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • Activity in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Activity in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • Working together in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Working together in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • Working on a piece in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Working on a piece in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • Reviewing work in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Reviewing work in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

More details on what you'll study.

Find out what you'll cover in this programme.

What you'll cover

The MA Environmental Architecture programme aims to expand the scope and content of design-led research in the field of architecture, environmental studies and territorial management. Possible areas of inquiry can include: sustainable forms of urbanisation; concepts of stewardship and care for nature; environmental change and its effect on migration and settlement patterns; climate justice adaptation to land use practices; impacts of resource extraction on ecosystems; environmental impacts of the energy transition; post-development and degrowth; indigenous struggles for land and environments; among many others.

Students on the MA Environmental Architecture programme will have the opportunity to pursue a degree within a world leading art and design institution, and to access the rich culture of radical and experimental interdisciplinary work at the Royal College of Art. Moreover, the programme will help students to establish a network of colleagues and mentors by offering them the opportunity of connecting to leading figures in Environmental Architecture both in London and internationally through an innovative practice mentorship scheme.

The programme is delivered across three terms and includes a combination of programme, School and College units.

Term 1

In term 1, you will study Studio Unit 1: Architectures of Extraction. This unit offers an introduction to the programme’s field-focused investigation into resource extraction architectures and their role in the climate and environmental crisis. It familiarises you with particular modes of work, especially design-based research methodologies, and collaborative forms of knowledge production.

Seminar Unit 1: Metabolic Rifts introduces you to the complex entanglements of environment and climate systems.

You will also take Media Studies 1, a School-wide unit that aims to increase your critical engagement with media and space.

Across Terms 1 and 2, you will participate in AcrossRCA, the College-wide unit. See below for more details.

Term 2

In term 2, you will study Research Studio Unit 2: Environmental Interventions, in which you will develop a design intervention strategy for the site explored in term 1. Emphasis will be placed on the definition of outputs, in relation to key project aims and stakeholders.

Seminar Unit 2: Critical Future Scenarios will deepen your understanding of environmental architecture and its potential socio-environmental impacts.

In term 2 all School of Architecture students will be offered an Elective unit.

Term 3

The programme culminates in the Independent Research Project (IRP). This unit enables you to apply the intellectual, technical and professional skills that you have developed throughout the programme to a challenging self-set brief focusing the role of digital tools to fostering social innovation.

Situated at the core of your RCA student experience, this ambitious interdisciplinary College- wide AcrossRCA unit supports how you respond to the challenges of complex, uncertain and changing physical and digital worlds by engaging you in a global creative network that draws on expertise within and beyond the institution. It provides an extraordinary opportunity for you to:

  • make connections across disciplines
  • think critically about your creative practice
  • develop creative networks within and beyond the College
  • generate innovative responses to complex problems
  • reflect on how to propose ideas for positive change in local and/or global contexts.

AcrossRCA launches with a series of presentations from internationally acclaimed speakers that will encourage you to think beyond the discourses of art, architecture, communication, and design, and extend into other territories such as economics, ethics, science, engineering, medicine or astrophysics.

In interdisciplinary teams you will be challenged to use your intellect and imagination to respond to urgent contemporary themes, providing you with an opportunity to develop innovative and disruptive thinking, critically reflect on your responsibilities as a creative practitioner and demonstrate the contribution that the creative arts can make to our understanding and experience of the world. This engagement with interdisciplinary perspectives and practices is designed both to complement your disciplinary studies and provide you with a platform to thrive beyond graduation.

In the Studio, Kaiwen Yu

The weekly design studio is the core of the MA programme. Work in the studio is organised individually and in small student groups (2–4 students), and teaching is conducted during weekly group tutorials and pin-up presentations.

The design studios introduce the pedagogy of the programme, provide you with design skills and research methodologies to analyse case studies, while assisting you with the formulation of research and design proposals. The teaching model combines written and design components, as both are considered essential practices in the generation of a disciplinary ecology. Currently, the programme features three design studios, each exploring architecture’s potential contribution to communities and organisations engaged in territorial disputes and resource extraction: 

RS3: Alentejo Research Unit / Liquid Deserts Studio

RS4: Anemoi

RS5: 1,000 rivers

Previous design studios:

The Orang-orang and the Hutan Studio

Lithium Triangle Research Studio

Borneo Field Trip, 2019, Photo: Christina Leigh Geros

Environmental questions are rarely far from contemporary public debate.

Climate change, global warming, global forest fires, and extreme weather events, mass species extinction, the pollution of our air, seas, land and rivers, not to forget the pollution of our own bodies and food supplies are all daily headline news in print and televisual media.

How should we think about these questions within a school of architecture?

Seminars require constant engagement and involvement by students in course material selection and preparation, collective discussions and oral presentations.

Past guests include: Susan Schuppli, Pedro Neves Marques, Adrian Lahoud, Lindsay Bremner, Nabil Ahmed, Nikos Katsikis, Shela Sheik, RIVAL, Zannah Mae Matson, Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Phineas Harper, Imani Jacqueline Brown and Professor Aran Chadwick. 

This unit enables students to explore how architects communicate ideas from both a contemporary and historical perspective. This encompasses a range of media that spans disciplines, ideologies and methods.

Students will use both analogue and digital technologies to understand better how a designer creates, interrogates and manipulates spatial environments.

This investigation will take place in a critical context, which explores how images are used to manufacture socio-political ideologies and negotiate public identities.

Nabil Ahmed

We have an innovative format of partnership with a selected group of professional practices and organisations. In the beginning of your Independent Research Project (IRP), you’ll be paired with a mentor  according to your research interests and work on your proposal for six weeks on-site within the mentor’s installations. In doing so we hope professional practices and organisations might have a foundational role in the development of the student’s IRP. 

Composed of a unique set of practices at the forefront of contemporary environmental design and thinking, our mentors aim to reflect the diversity of perspectives and possibilities within our programme.

Mentors change every year depending on student interests and mentor availability.

Recent practice mentors include:

AFO

Atelier 10

Atmos Lab

BBUK

CatalyticAction

Hassell Studio

Ian Ritchie Architects

Interprt

Rival Strategy

T-E-D-S

Wayward

Yves Daccord

Vineet Diwadkar

Matilda Cassani

Autonomy

Dr. Samaneh Moafi

Marc DuBois

Claudia Montero - Fundación Desierto de Atacama

Skye Moret

Pippa Howard – Fauna & Flora International

Jess Myers

Dr. Maria Guevara, MD – Médecins Sans Frontières

Nashin Mahtani 

Future Firm

Konstantina Koulouri – Dark Matter Labs

Dane Carlson – REALMS

Tasting Window

Curation, installation, and exhibition are important methods of communication that opens new dialogues about environmental conflicts; while helping creative the threads of research and design travel and form new collaborations. Throughout the programme students have opportunities to show their work within and outside of the RCA.

Requirements

What you need to know before you apply

Candidates are selected entirely on merit and applications are welcomed from all over the world. The selection process will consider creativity, imagination and innovation as demonstrated in your portfolio, as well as your potential to benefit from the programme and to achieve high MA standards overall.

You’ll likely be students of architecture with a 3+2-year Bachelor and Master’s degree, or master-equivalent 5-year diploma preferably in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Landscape Urbanism, Urban Design or other related design discipline looking to acquire expertise in large scale, environmental and ecological design projects.

We’ll consider other backgrounds, such as fine arts, social sciences, geography, urban studies, planning or economics, if your prior work is of exceptional merit and you’re able to demonstrate their ability to work alongside and contribute to multidisciplinary teams. Evidence of your intellectual and professional curiosity and a readiness to engage in a rigorous and demanding period of study is essential.

What's needed from you

Your portfolio is a showcase of your work as an artist or designer and can be made up of images, videos or writing examples. Your portfolio helps us to better understand your application and allows you to show evidence of your ability and motivation to undertake a given programme.

Generally, we’re looking for you to demonstrate your:

  • Creativity, imagination and innovation
  • Ability to articulate the intentions of the work
  • Intellectual engagement in areas relevant to the work
  • Technical skills appropriate to the work
  • Potential to benefit from the programme

We would like you to prioritise projects or other pieces of work that showcase:

  • Ability and interest in addressing environmental and climate issues through design
  • A range of technical design skills (these might take the form of drawing, model making, 3D models, film, photography, writing, painting, performance, exhibition design or others)
  • A range of research methods (this could include academic papers, fieldwork, interviews, documentary practices, environmental analysis or other)
  • Experience in group work and collaborative practices
  • Experience of working with non-academic partners (if possible)
  • All submitted materials should state if they were done individually or in collaboration, and clearly explain the research methods and design processes that led to the final outcome.

Visit our application portal to view more portfolio requirements

While portfolios showcase important technical and design skills, there are certain aspects of an application that are better grasped by hearing the applicant speaking about her/his own work.

Please take this opportunity to tell us a bit more about your motivations and personal interests, and how these have led you to apply to this programme. Start by explaining what led to your interest in environmental architecture. What do you think could be architecture's contribution to addressing climate change? How do you design? What tools do you use? What methods? Finally, we would like to know where you see yourself in the future, and what you expect to gain from studying at the Royal College of Art and in the MA Environmental Architecture.

If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need the equivalent of an IELTS Academic score of 6.5 with a 6.0 in the Test of Written English (TWE) and at least 5.5 in other skills. Students achieving a grade of at least 6.0, with a grade of 5.5 in the Test of Written English, may be eligible to take the College’s English for Academic Purposes course to enable them to reach the required standard.

You are exempt from this requirement if you have received a 2.1 degree or above from a university in a majority English-speaking nation within the last two years.

If you need a Student Visa to study at the RCA, you will also need to meet the Home Office’s minimum requirements for entry clearance.

Find out more about English-language requirements

Fees & funding

For this programme

Fees for new students

Fees for September 2022 entry on this programme are outlined below. From 2021 onward, EU students are classified as Overseas for tuition fee purposes.

Home
(subsidised)
£13,500*
Overseas and EU
£32,000*

Deposit

New entrants to the College will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit in order to secure their place. This will be offset against the tuition fees.

Home
£1,000
Overseas and EU
£2,000

* Total cost is based on the assumption that the programme is completed in the timeframe stated in the programme details. Additional study time may incur additional charges.

Scholarships

Scholarships

Scholarships are awarded for a specific programme and entry point and cannot be deferred without consent from the academic Programme and scholarships panel.

More information

External funding

There are many funding sources, with some students securing scholarships and others saving money from working. It is impossible to list all the potential funding sources; however, the following information could be useful.

Payments

Tuition fees are due on the first day of the academic year and students are sent an invoice prior to beginning their studies. Payments can be made in advance, on registration or in two instalments.

Start your application

RCA students at work (photo: Richard Haughton)

Change your life and be here in 2022

The Royal College of Art welcomes applicants from all over the world.

Before you begin

1.
Make sure you've read and understood the entrance requirements and key dates
More information about eligibility and key dates
2.
Check you have all the information you need to apply.
Read our application process guide
Visit our applications portal to get started

Ask a question

Get in touch if you’d like to find out more or have any questions.

Register your interest with us here
RCA Kensington cafe